Posted tagged ‘Toni Sikes’

Who Speaks For Tech?

September 23, 2014

So if Wisconsin is trapped in yesteryear politics and economics, as I argue in the story posted above, the business group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is the exemplar of this thinking.  Here’s how I began this related piece, also in Isthmus:

This is a problem.

The state’s most powerful business voice has conspicuously little contact with Wisconsin’s rising technology industry.

Wisconsin Manufacturing & Commerce, which claims more than 3,500 businesses as members, brags that “the success of the WMC government relations team in projecting and accomplishing a proactive business agenda has been second to none.”

Well, yeah. On the surface, WMC has never been stronger. The support WMC has thrown to small-government, pro-business Republicans has paid off big time, to say the obvious.

Wisconsin has a Republican governor, a Republican Assembly, a Republican Senate, a Republican-favoring Supreme Court and a Republican-dominated congressional delegation.

But critics say that WMC’s success is mostly in pursuing a savvy political agenda — not a savvy growth agenda. And the group’s legislative wish list tilts heavily to helping Wisconsin’s legacy manufacturers. The problem: These venerable corporate citizens usually burnish their bottom lines by adopting strategies that emphasize tax avoidance, lessened regulatory costs and dampened labor costs.

Do they add new jobs to the payroll? Not so much.

To read more, including how the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has embraced the tech industry, please go here.


Helen And Toni’s Excellent Tech Adventures

August 13, 2013

This edition of my Isthmus tech column hits several topics, including  web startups by former state Rep. Helen Kelda Roys and serial entrepreneur Toni Sikes. Here’s a chunk:

Roys’ passion and hard work (she knocked on more than 20,000 doors in her first election) are two of the reasons venture capitalist Troy Vosseller cites for his investor group, the well-regarded (and oddly spelled)gener8tor, backing Roys’ venture. OpenHomes offers a software platform that connects homebuyers and sellers in a way that promises to save big bucks for both.

Cofounder Scott Rouse, who worked at Shoutlet, StudyBlue and Asthmapolis, handles the tech end. Roys, who is an attorney and real estate agent, knows the business end.

“I started selling real estate at 19,” she says. “I was in college in New York City and had to earn money.”

Roys wound up graduating from New York University in three years (her major: drama, politics and cultural studies) and then attended law school at UW-Madison.

The OpenHomes game plan proved beguiling enough to attract a $20,000 gener8tor investment and three months of mentoring from the edgy investment group, which runs “accelerator” shops in Madison and Milwaukee for its portfolio of startups.

To read more, please  go here.

These are the other items:

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